Medium NaNoWriMo Novel Prompt #1
Tom Farr

The Illusionist: My NaNoWriMo Opening Scene

In honor of NaNoWriMo, below is the opening scene of my novel, tentatively titled The Illusionist, unedited and unrevised.

Lance Mira’s eyes were glued to the stage from the moment the crimson curtain parted and August Caplan appeared from a cloud of smoke in the middle of the stage. Once he heard Caplan was coming to town several weeks before, he begged his mom and dad to go until they finally said yes. Lance would be turning eight years old in a two weeks, and this was the gift to beat all others.

As he watched Caplan perform, cutting someone in half one time and making someone else levitate at another time, Lance glanced periodically to his left and his right to make sure his mom and dad were still with him. He’d seen videos of Caplan performing plenty of times, but seeing it in person was almost overwhelming.

His parents would laugh anytime he told them he wanted to be an illusionist like August Caplan, but Lance wasn’t joking. Someday he would be as great as Caplan, maybe even better. He’d make someone disappear and reappear somewhere else. Maybe somewhere new. A new world maybe. Maybe he could make someone appear from another world. Lance thought of his grandfather who died two years ago. His mom and dad said that he went to heaven, but what if he could come back?

Lance’s thoughts were broken by the sound of a shiny blue sports car driving onto the stage. The vehicle came to a stop at the front of the stage, and August Caplan stepped out of the driver side door.

“And now,” Caplan said in a booming voice, “I will make this car disappear from the stage.”

Lance could feel his heart beating faster.

“But first,” Caplan continued, “I need six audience volunteers to come up on the stage.”

Lance jumped to his feet and his hand joined the hundreds of others that shot up around the room. With everyone taller than him, his hand just disappeared in all the others. He put his arm down, disappointed.

Then he was being lifted up by his dad and placed on his dad’s shoulders. Standing high above everyone else, Lance put his hand up again.

Caplan scanned the room, randomly picking one, two, then three people.

Lance tried to reach higher, trying to will Caplan’s eyes to turn his direction.

Caplan picked two more people, and Lance was about to give up when Caplan’s gaze stopped in his direction. Lance felt Caplan’s eyes connect with his. Caplan pointed at him.

“You,” he said.

Lance excitedly made his way up to the stage, dragging his mom with him by the hand.

“Hurry, Mom,” he said.

She picked up her pace and soon they were standing on the stage with the other five audience members. Caplan directed the seven of them to surround the car. He invited each of them to step forward and touch the car to make sure it was real. Lance and his mom approached the car, reaching out with their hands. The paint was smooth to his touch. The car was definitely real.

Each of them stood back. Caplan walked around each of them. Lance kept his eyes on the car, hoping to learn the secret to Caplan’s magic. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Caplan lift his hand in the air and snap.

The car was gone!

It was there, and then it wasn’t. Lance never took his eyes off the car, but now he could see the woman who was standing on the other side of the car. He looked from side to side on the stage, but the car was nowhere.

Caplan invited the audience members to walk across the area where the car had been. Lance and his mother made their way across. He expected to find mirrors or something that could explain why the car looked as if it weren’t there when it actually wasn’t. But the space was empty. They walked without stopping. The car was really gone.

His voice filled with fascination, he pulled his mom close and whispered to her, “How did he do that?”

She gently hushed him. “Just watch,” she whispered.

“If I could invite you all to take six steps back,” Caplan said. “The next part could get a little messy.”

Lance and his mom stepped back. They waited for what seemed like forever.

An explosion. So loud that Lance was sure a bomb had gone off and so bright that he had to close his eyes. Was he dead? No. He opened his eyes to see a cloud of white smoke on the stage begin to dissipate. Gasps filled the room as the car reappeared within the smoke.

With wide eyes, the boy looked at his mom again. Her smile was wide. She joined the hundreds of others in the audience who began clapping.

The boy returned his eyes to where Caplan was standing, but he was gone.

The show was over, and Lance knew it. It was the way August Caplan ended all of his shows. A mysterious disappearance. Eventually, he’d show up again, post a new video, or make a new public appearance in some random location. But for now, Lance knew nobody would be able to find the great August Caplan.

Lance walked out of the noisy theater in between his mom and dad, confused by the sense of dread mixed with excitement running through his body. The buzzing in his ears from the explosion told him one thing: August Caplan wasn’t just a great magician; he was capable of anything. And someday, so would Lance.